‘Comfortable, relaxing, sexy atmosphere’ Prestigious developer opens Harbor Bar & Brasserie in old Spirito Grill location

It’s not every day that you get to see one of New Jersey’s most successful businessmen in a Halloween costume.

But here was Emmanuel Stern, the president and chief operations officer of Hartz Mountain Industries, decked out in a Darth Vader outfit.

Obviously, Stern was in a joyous mood – and not simply because it was Halloween. He was elated to be able to formally announce the opening of his latest business venture, the Harbor Bar & Brasserie, located on the waterfront at Lincoln Harbor. The restaurant is taking over the old slot inside the Sheraton Suites hotel (already owned by Stern and Hartz) that was occupied by Spirito Grill.

Hartz Mountain also owns two luxurious New York hotels with restaurants in them: the Soho Grand and the Tribeca Grand.

“Our vision for the Harbor Bar & Brasserie was to create a New Jersey-based destination where people can enjoy an evening in a comfortable, relaxing, sexy atmosphere,” Stern said. “We are offering the type of dining and night-life experience that you could only find in Manhattan and that doesn’t currently exist in New Jersey.”

Former owner was prestigious too

Spirito Grill, which closed its doors last year due to poor business numbers, was owned and operated by ARCORP, headed by Weehawken resident Arthur Imperatore, Sr., who also owns the NY Waterway ferry service and local restaurant Arthur’s Landing.

Tony Fant, the president and COO of the Hartz Mountain Hospitality Division, believes that the Harbor Bar & Brasserie will succeed where the two prior tenants at the location failed.

“I’m very excited to be able to take what we already do in New York and introduce it to New Jersey,” Fant said. “I don’t look at this as a gamble. We have done well with our businesses in New York and this is the right product for the right space. This is a big step to make this hotel feel more like a New York hotel.”

To insure the quality, Fant has brought many of his staff from the Soho Grand and the Tribeca Grand to the Harbor Bar & Brasserie.

“The drinks will be delivered and crafted with care,” Fant said.

Fant said that the general public has been excited about the opening of the new bar.

“We’ve received so much feedback, people saying, ‘When are you opening? When are you opening?’ ” Fant said. “Everyone is waiting for this place to open and now we’re ready.”

Open to the public

The ribbon-cutting ceremony took place on Tuesday, and the Harbor Bar opened to the general public on Thursday.

Fant also said that the new business will have a different schedule than the old one.

“We’re going to be open for breakfast and lunch,” Fant said. “There’s going to be a constant hustle and bustle here. We’ll have a coffee bar and offer sandwiches to go for commuters. We’ll also have a nice bar area where people can come and enjoy a cocktail after work. And with the brasserie, we’ll have really great food, a wide variety of food.”

The facility can handle large parties and banquets, up to 290 guests.

“We’ve already had people call and book us,” Fant said. “Word is definitely getting out. It has everything we want it to be.”

Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner and council members Rosemary Lavagnino and Robert Zucconi were on hand for the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“We’re so pleased that Hartz Mountain has decided to do something new and made this great renovation,” Turner said. “We’re looking forward to their lasting success here.”

Hartz Mountain spent $1 million in renovations and restorations to the restaurant.

“I don’t think this is a gamble,” Stern said. “We could have just rented it out again to a chain or something. But it’s better for the hotel to have a classy establishment like this.”

Hard to argue with a man dressed as Darth Vader.


© 2000, Newspaper Media Group